Photography on the Malerweg
It is a joy to take photographs on the Malerweg: Subjects worth capturing galore – and all connected by a well-constructed hiking trail. But those looking for spectacular pictures to take home need to get up early!
Painting is perhaps the most intensive way of grappling with the aesthetics of a landscape, and it is an art form that continues to be practised in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. But today it is photography that stands as the main way of interacting with the photogenic natural beauty. And even that has a long tradition here. A weathered inscription, which can be read on a rock nearby the famous Bastei Bridge, says that Herman Krone took the first landscape photograph in Saxony here in 1853.Those following the Malerweg will keep coming across spectacular scenes. Romantic artists were fascinated by the "picturesque" – and they found it throughout the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The basic aesthetic principle has largely been forgotten about now but it still applies – even for photography. It relates to the tension between the "beautiful" and the "sublime". The "picturesque" appears where large meets small, rugged meets smooth, threatening meets charming.The enormous range of the most contrastingly shaped landscapes in the smallest of spaces means that the Elbe Sandstone Mountains offer "picturesque" scenes in this sense at every turn. Beginners will soon realise that it is not all that easy to truly capture the landscape in a photograph. However, by following a few simple rules, you have a good chance of being able to take some spectacular pictures back home with you.
Get up early.
In the Elbe Sandstone Mountains – as well as in most other places on earth – the best lighting for landscape photographs is just after sunrise. If you are lucky, you will also find a stunning mist on the River Elbe and in the valleys in spring and autumn. You may as well leave your camera in your bag at lunchtime, especially during the summer months: The light is generally too harsh and the air to hazy at this time of day – and no filter on earth nor any image processing software can do anything to change this. Things improve as evening approaches. And when the sun sets over the sea of rocks, it is spectacular. Although there is often no mist at this time of day.
Check your equipment.
Generally, you should only take the essentials with you – ideally all stowed away in a rucksack. Sometimes you have to walk a while before reaching the perfect location; you may have to cross a narrow point or climb some steps. As such, you need your hands free. Despite this, it is a good idea to carry a tripod with you, so that the shimmering richness of detail of the rocks and forests in the distance is not lost as a result of camera shake. In addition, fascinating subjects can be found in the shade, which can remain extremely dark even during the day. All other photography equipment – especially the choice of lens – are a matter of personal preference.